This month’s audiobook selection: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.
If you don’t know who Neil Gaiman is, get off the internet, you’re doing it wrong. He’s the nerd-king. He’s the writer behind the Sandman graphic novels. He also wrote a few little books called American Gods, Coraline, Stardust, and many others. I’ve previously reviewed the audiobook to The Ocean At The End Of The Lane (which Gaiman narrated, to the Internet’s joy) and waxed poetic and obsessive about how much I love him, so I’ll avoid doing that here. Ahem.
Anansi Boys is pretty fantastic, as you could have probably guessed I’d say. But you know what makes the audiobook version beyond good? Lenny Henry is the narrator. If you’re British, you’ll probably know who he is, but if you’re not, Henry is one of those versatile British comedian/actor/writers who seemingly can do anything and everything. Ok, Americans, you have heard him before: he was the voice of the shrunken head on the bus in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Narrating Anansi Boys was just…the best choice. He’s such a funny, clever and talented voice actor, and he plays the characters in the novel to absolute perfection. I dare say I wouldn’t enjoy reading this in print as much as I enjoyed listening to it. It just wouldn’t be the same book – he truly adds an extra dimension to this novel. What a contrast he makes to a narrator like John Chancer, whose monotone bores me to sleep before I can even get into the story! I purchased Norwegian Wood narrated by John Chancer nearly a year ago and still haven’t finished it. I love Haruki Murakami, and I love audiobooks, but I HATE Chancer’s flat American monotone, like a fly buzzing hopelessly against a window. Sorry, Chancer.
It’s incredible what a difference a really good narrator makes, and Henry NAILS IT. I’ve re-listened to Anansi Boys multiple times now just because he’s so entertaining.
Right, right, the book. If you’ve read American Gods, it has thematic/stylistic similarities, although Anansi Boys I think is more comedic and a bit less trying-to-be-profound. It still has its moments but the book overall is a great caper from page 1. For the billionth time, I don’t do synopses because that’s why Amazon was invented so just trust me here: read it. Listen to it, actually!
I leave you with a quote:
“Stories are like spiders, with all they long legs, and stories are like spiderwebs, which man gets himself all tangled up in but which look pretty when you see them under a leaf in the morning dew, and in the elegant way that they connect to one another, each to each.”
Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys